“To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always”
-ascribed to Hippocrates (Greek physician, 460-370 BC)
As a medical student this message would have been drummed in countless times; and, as a young doctor, one will realise that permanent eradication of illness is not always possible and that many diseases cannot be cured. One needs to not just administer pain-killers but also to devote time to understand the patient’s agenda despite a busy work schedule, offer empathy and, most important, seeing the patient as a human being, not just an object to operate on or to inject drugs in.
When treatment has failed to cure and patients are about to die, many doctors and nurses feel they have failed and give up their hands in despair. Don’t forget that that the dying patient still requires another form of treatment – palliative care.